This post continues our series on the best plays of 2011, with this post being sponsored by SBN affiliate Samsung. Last time, we talked about Stephen Garcia's run against ECU. Today, we're talking about D.J. Swearinger's key interception of Justin Worley in the second half against Tennessee. Here's the play (see around the 1:40 mark):
Highlights: Gamecocks at Tennessee - 2011 (via GamecocksOnline)
Why It's This High: This play very well could have made the difference in this game. The score was 7-3 Carolina, and Connor Shaw had just been intercepted by Prentiss Waggner, who returned the ball to the USC goal line. The Vols looked poised to take the lead. Instead, the Gamecocks defense made an epic stand: after Tauren Poole lost yardage on first down, Swearinger stepped in front of and intercepted Worley's pass into the end zone. With momentum back on its side, Carolina then staged a twenty-play, twelve-minute, 98-yard drive to take a commanding lead into the fourth quarter. With Carolina's defense rested and clicking on all cylinders, what at one point looked like a potentially disastrous upset loss now seemed academic.
Why It's Not Higher: This was an extremely important play in terms of the outcome of this game, but it wasn't a terribly impressive play. It was an ugly pass by Worley, who must not have seen Swearinger, telegraphed the pass all the way, and threw too low. Swearinger made an athletic move to finish the play off, but, largely, the interception owed more to an ugly throw by an inexperienced freshman QB making his first start than a great defensive play or a brilliant coaching call. Moreover, while the play made a difference in the game, this wasn't one of the biggest games of the season in terms of suspense and national implications. Both of these factors detract from the importance of the play somewhat.
So, now that we've gone through plays ten, nine, and eight, what plays do you guys think are coming soon? What were some of your favorites of the season, and why? I'm curious to see how many of you pick plays that I'm planning to count down.